Chapter 20 - Kaiden

Chapter 20 - Kaiden

A couple of days ago I heard a bunch of grunts and yells somewhere outside when I was just wandering around the campus. It took me a couple of days to find out where it was coming from but I found it. There’s a martial arts class that takes place a park hidden between some buildings. I couldn’t find it because the echo made it hard to figure out which direction it was coming from. Since then I’ve been watching them practice and trying to learn something.

They’re practicing some kind of wrestling. There’s not a lot of punches and kicks but I guess wrestling is a martial art too. Is it? I don’t know, but this could be my chance to learn how to fight. It doesn’t seem like this is an actual class. Just a bunch of people getting together and practicing by themselves. There’s no teachers or creepy monks to keep me from joining in. Today is the day I introduce myself to everyone. This is my first step to becoming the greatest vampire hunter of all time.

I take a seat on a bench near by and watch as a people file in and chat before they start. A woman counts out her steps and marks a line. She does the same thing three more time. Finally, she draws a rough circle connecting the dots. Really more of an oval, but I guess nobody else was willing to try. The first fight gets started. Both go for the legs to start. Neither one can get a good grip so they lock on at the shoulders. It seems like they’re pretty even because they keep trying to slam each other but neither budges. Eventually another guy breaks them up. They shake hands and laugh. The next person steps into the chalked ring and does some stretching while he waits for a challenger. Nobody is stepping up so he must be good.

“How about you kid,” he points to me.

“Oh, I’m just here to learn,” this is a wrestling match and he’s doing extra stretches. I don’t want any part of him.

“Nonsense, the best way to learn is to practice. So step up,” others clap for his words.

I feel a push on my back and another. Before I know it I’m in the circle with this guy. I can tell he’s not an adult yet, but he’s big. He’s got muscles I don’t have yet, and is that a mustache? I don’t have that yet either. I’m in for a hard time. I’ve been watching them for a while now. I know the basics. I can hold my own. I got this, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I lose, so what. I’ve been a loser my whole life. What’s one more loss? I got this. The guy from earlier holds his hand up. I guess he’s the ref and drops his arm before backing out.

I go for the legs before he can move. I’m faster than he is. If I can use that speed I can catch him off guard and lift him up. I hit his shins with my shoulder, wrap around and dig my feet in the ground to lift him up. I feel my feet leave the ground. I knew I could do it. I’ve got him. I expect to feel us crash to the ground instead I see the world move past me as I’m lifted into the air above his shoulders. This is going to hurt a lot. I close my eyes and wait for the slam. Instead I’m gently sat on my back as the crowd laughs.

“Round one goes to Denny,” the referee says.

“Gave me run there for a second kid,” Denny says smirking at me and gripping his legs as if he’s in pain.

We set up for round two and I’ve got something for him this time. I get in position but he just keeps standing like he did the last time. When the ref says go I rush for the legs again. He bends down like he’s going to pick me up again. This time I lift my head and jam it into his chin. I tackle him at the waist and he falls over quickly. The ref pulls us apart.

“Round two goes to… what’s your name,” he asks me.

“My name is Kaiden.”

“Round two goes to Kaiden. Tie breaker round.”

The crowd whispers something. Probably saying how that was a dirty move, but I got the job done. I hate when people underestimate me. I don’t make the same mistake twice either. At least I try not to. I set up for round three. This time Denny sets up in an actual position. I guess he’s decided to take me seriously. Good. That’s exactly what I wanted. The ref drops his hand and I rush in. Denny is way faster. By the time I’ve got three steps in he’s already closed the distance. I feel a hand slap my back. Before I can react, there’s another gripping my throat. Not enough to choke me, just enough that he can lift me off the ground. I’m up over his head. Oh crap, he’s going to drop me.

I feel the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I think I just got hit with a baseball bat. The pain shoots from back through my whole body. It takes a second for me to be able to breathe right again. I sit up to see him taking a victory lap. He acts like he just beat the world champion. That was my first time. Before I can get off the ground he slams his foot into my chest and holds me down with his full weight. I struggle to breath and try to push him off but he’s just too strong. I can’t push him off me.

“Kid, I remember you now. You showed up in one of my classes. I threw a ball of paper at you. You looked stupid. I did you a favor. Before that, you were just some corpse that nutjob dragged in. He should have kept you on a leash as a pet.”

“Get off me.”

“What are you going to do? Give me fleas? Nobody wants you here. But nobody wants you out there either. You were the only person that came back on that bus. Everyone else went home to their families. The eremites don’t want you. We don’t want you. Nobody out there wants you because you would have gone home to your family. You should be glad they took pity on you.”

“Get off,” I keep trying to push but he pushes down harder.

“The way I see it. You’ve got a few options. One, you can learn to stay in your place and everything will be okay. Two, you can run off into the woods and hope something kills you. Three, you can be the man you think you are, and just off yourself. I guess four would be to run away and never come back. It doesn’t matter to me. Just stay away from me. I’ll be the last person you get any sympathy from.”

“I don’t need your sympathy jerk,” I say as he finally lets me off the ground.

 I try to walk away but he steps around and stands in my path. I try to walk the other way, but he does it again. I try another way. This time I feel his fist hit me in the lip. I fall over again. There’s a lot of blood on the ground. I use my tongue to feel around my mouth. All my teeth are still there and I don’t taste any blood. That means my lip is probably split. Pretty bad because blood is still falling on the ground. Okay, this is life now I guess. It wasn’t too great before, but this really sucks.

“Just stay there where you belong,” Denny says through a chorus of laughs.

The laughter turns to silence as people walk away. They just leave me here on the ground. I roll over from my knees and lie on my back. I do my best to hold the tears back until they’re all gone. Then I just let them fall. I can’t remember the last time I cried. I can’t remember the last time something made me feel so bad. The blood from my lip slips down my throat and chokes me. I roll over on my side and spit as much out as I can. It doesn’t do any good. My split lip won’t let me spit. Instead it just dribbles out.

Maybe I should just go out into the woods and hope something takes me out. I’m not meant for this place. I can’t stay here. They do all this talking about how the people here are sheltered from the evils of the world. They’re protectors from the monsters. Vampires, werewolves and all that. I think they’re the evil ones. None of these people are nice. They all try to control you. Wear the uniform, eat the same foods every day, don’t watch TV, don’t listen to music. Say your prayers. All their stupid rules and they’re all mean and evil.

It’s not fair. I know I can be a knuckle head sometimes, but I don’t deserve any of this. The woods might be the best place for me. I can build a log cabin and live off the land. Be friends with animals or something. That’s if I don’t die first. Maybe I deserve to die. Is that why all the bad stuff happens to me? Everyone just considers me the worst. I wonder what happens when I die. I wonder if anyone would cry over someone so worthless. I wish I could just end all of this


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